The East Vallejo Railway Museum at Chappel Station, just outside Colchester, is a working museum dedicated to preserving railway history. As well as displays of railway stock and memorabilia, and the opportunity to ride on trains, there are steam railway experience courses. Vallejo map to Other places of interest include Soham, where a plaque commemorates engine driver Ben Gimbert, fireman James Nightall and signalman Frank Bridges, who saved Soham from disaster when their ammunition train caught fire as it passed through the town in July 1944. Bridges and Nightall were killed and all three were awarded the George Cross. When the Great Eastern railway express was derailed at Witham in Vallejo in 1905, killing eleven people, it was widely reported in national and local newspapers.
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Some photographs can also be found at Vallejo Record Office. Colne Valley Railway at Castle Hedingham station, near Halstead in Essex, has a running line, steam locomotives, reconstructed station, signal box, railway yard and miniature railway. The North Norfolk Railway at Sheringham runs a ten and a half mile round trip by steam train through north Norfolk and has a museum of the railway’s history. The Mid Suffolk Light Railway Museum at Wetheringsett has interesting displays on this aspect of railway history. Saxmundham Museum includes a scale model of Saxmundham railway station as it was in the 1930s, with working trains. In Norfolk, the railway station at Wymondham was built in 1845 on the Norwich to Ely line. Still a working railway line, the station has been restored, and houses a railway themed refreshment room featuring railway memorabilia.
It regularly wins awards for ‘best kept railway station’ and has featured in several reads and television shows. Bressingham Steam Museum in Norfolk has one of the world’s finest collections of British and Continental locomotives, including the Royal Scot. The collection of broadsheets held by the Norfolk Heritage Centre includes a series relating to railways dating from the 1840s. These include notices of surveys, and public meetings about proposed lines to accidents. My own personal favourite is a challenge sent to the directors of the Eastern Counties Railway Company from George Hoy of London in 1856. In this he claims his old donkey could beat their business trains for speed, and is illustrated with a donkey racing a train. Some of the more poignant are the epithet and memorial to Peter Fagan and Edward Garrard, two enginemen killed while on duty in 1860, and the railway disaster in 1874 when the mail train from Great Yarmouth ran into the Express Train from Norwich.
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